Does your shop have an (active) Instagram account?
In the 15 years since the dawn of social networking, platforms like Instagram have become part of life for more than 1 billion users. Over an eighth of the people on the planet use the app monthly, and upward of 500 million users check their feeds every single day.
OK, so what? Keep in mind that Instagram is a curated, online marketplace – for influencers selling the illusion of a perfect life, sure, but also for more than 25 million business accounts marketing goods and services. Seventy-one percent of US businesses now have an account, which is good news for the 60 percent of Instagrammers using the platform to seek out and discover new products. Hello, potential customers!
We spoke with three wrap shops leveraging their online presence to find new clients, connect with others in the industry, and form partnerships with major industry players – all while showcasing their stellar work. Check out the #wrapeverything hashtag to begin making your way down the rabbit hole.
PLAY US A SONG
Icon Image Graphics (Santa Fe Springs, CA) is a shop that’s equally comfortable wrapping a fleet of commercial vans or an instrument for Lady Gaga, Jack White or Miranda Lambert. After 11 years in the industry, Icon Image has assembled a team of installers “proficient in the art of wrapping just about anything that’s out there,” said Sino Tour, co-owner and director of operations. The shop’s Instagram page boasts more than 10,000 followers. Semi-trucks, amps, guitars, pianos, busses, fleets, walls – you name it; they’ve wrapped it.
It turns out that Icon Image’s work has star power as well as staying power. For the past seven years at the Grammys, the shop has accentuated various artists’ stage performances with creative vinyl applications. Because installers set up shop at the rehearsal space and backstage at the actual venue, “We’ve given impromptu wrap demos to artists, designers, managers, music executives and music aficionados before and after the telecast,” Tour said.
For the 2019 show, Icon Image wrapped five pianos total – including host and headliner Alicia Keys’ Yamaha MPC6, one of two pianos Keys played simultaneously during her “Songs I Wish I Wrote” medley performance. “Originally, they wanted a pearlescent finish or something with more color on both pianos,” Tour said. The team instead opted to pay homage to famous singer-pianist Hazel Scott with a black and white color scheme. Tour and another custom installer used 30 ft. of 3M Wrap Film Series 1080 Gloss White to wrap the entire piano, including the foot pedal, music stand and bench in two days. “For a 15-time Grammy winner, it was important to us that the wrap was camera-ready at all times, even during the final rehearsal phase,” Tour said. During the first day of dress rehearsal, the audience-facing side of the wrap was damaged in transit, so Tour scrambled to rewrap the entire section in time for Keys’ performance. The end result? A gorgeous vinyl wrap ready to be viewed by 20 million live viewers and another 2.5 million on YouTube.
“The vinyl work we created for Keys not only garnered praise from production, but also props from the likes of Kacey Musgraves, Post Malone and Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers,” Tour said. “The latter, with whom I had a brief conversation about vinyl graphics backstage, asked if the technology was as old as him. l chuckled and replied ‘no.’”
CAN’T FAKE THE FUNK
Our conversation with Essex, UK-based Funkeefish started something like this:
“So, tell me about your shop.”
“We like drawing on cars really,” Funkeefish owner and Managing Director Mark Chamberlain laughed.
Scrolling through the shop’s Instagram page, it’s easy to see that this is true – and it’s hard to miss the bright and colorful racecars on display every few posts. Funkeefish is a “small-but-growing” shop thriving with partnerships with key manufacturers and clients, including JMW Motorsport. Chamberlain has worked with the motorsport team for the past seven or eight years, wrapping its racecar for the annual 24-hour Le Mans competition. For the 2019 event held in June, JMW commissioned renowned designer and vehicle stylist Andy Blackmore – “Very big in the motorsport graphics world,” Chamberlain said – to create imagery for a Ferrari 488 GTE wrap, which was then printed and installed by Funkeefish. The final design was “a camo wrap, but with [sponsorship] logos,” Chamberlain said, plus some added “Easter eggs” including a dragon drawn by Blackmore’s daughter and a panda for driver Wei Lu. Funkeefish output Avery Dennison MPI 1105 Easy Apply RS cast film for the graphics with the shop’s Roland SOLJET Pro 4 XR-640, laminating with Avery Dennison DOL 1460Z Gloss film.
Because Le Mans is such a long race, damage to the wrap is inevitable – even with an overlaminate. “When the wrap’s finished and done, it’s a work of art. And when it comes back, it’s just a mess,” Chamberlain said.
Funkeefish uses its own social media feeds as a tool for manufacturer partnerships and finding new business. “I started off with Facebook initially, and I’ve changed to Instagram – it’s so quick and visual,” Chamberlain said, though the shop uses whatever platform an OEM partner is most active on. The shop is currently emphasizing Instagram, as Funkeefish recently announced a partnership with Avery Dennison to open a graphics training center and “One of the areas we hope to be really prolific in is the social media side,” he added.
For Funkeefish’s own Instagram page, Chamberlain aims to showcase the shop’s extensive range of offerings, from commercial to car graphics. Those posts often lead to new clients. The shop recently wrapped a commercial van with cool blue and black graphics, posted a picture to Instagram and immediately received three new local jobs. “That’s where we get our interest,” Chamberlain said.
OVER THE MOON FOR VINYL
For Wrapsesh (Mesa, AZ), social media is more than a marketing tool; it’s the key to success. Started in 2016 by Michael Shedd, a certified mechanic with six years’ wrap experience, and Jessica Bonifacio, an installer who trained under Shedd in 2015, Wrapsesh and its partner brand Vinyl Vixens have accumulated more than 45,000 followers across Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. “We’ve never really had marketing, so it’s all been on social media,” Shedd said. “We let our work speak for itself.”
The wrap duo’s reputation for doing jobs with “crazy, detailed coverage” – majorly disassembling vehicles to wrap around all the edges – lends itself to fun and informational social media posts, including YouTube and Instagram TV videos. “We’re not trying to make educational videos teaching people how to wrap,” Bonifacio said. “It’s really just documenting our experiences and our shop.”
One such video walks the viewer through a Sailor Moon-themed motorcycle wrap project for model/racer “Little Lindsee” Lindsey Lockwood. After outsourcing printing for the first few years of business, Wrapsesh worked with Mutoh America to install a Mutoh ValueJet 1624X and begin imaging their own wraps. The Sailor Moon project, designed by Christina McKay of Curvaceous Wraps (Portland, OR) involved trying out a number of materials before landing on 3M Wrap Film Series 1080 Gloss Flip Ghost Pearl: “It has this white iridescent with a rainbow sheen to it, which makes the roses and the rose petals look really pretty outside,” Bonifacio said. “It makes the stars on the wrap almost twinkle.” Wrapsesh wrapped Lockwood’s Ninja 400 and helmet, finishing with 3M Scotchcal Gloss Overlaminate 8518.
The genuine, behind-the-scenes feel to Wrapsesh’s videos and social media feeds has garnered fans from around the world, including Greece, England, Germany, Brazil and Australia. The brand’s success “all kind of leads back to social media,” Bonifacio said. “That’s the only reason people knew who we were or started respecting our work.” Bonifacio launched the Vinyl Vixen persona dedicated to showcasing women in the automotive scene when she first began wrapping, “so by the time we started our business, I already had a decent following.” Wrapsesh and Vinyl Vixen Wraps work together to boost each other, though Bonifacio says Vinyl Vixen is the more interactive account. “A huge part of our social media success is being interactive,” she said. “I get 50 or 60 messages a day from people asking for advice, or quotes, or they just want to say they’re a fan, and I spend hours and hours just talking to these people from around the world.”
Bonifacio also attributes her large social media following to consistently posting interesting, relevant content. “There’s videos, there’s pictures, there’s bloopers, installing, time lapses” she said. “There are so many wrap shops that I look at their page, and it’s only commercial wraps with before-and-after side views. That’s it. Boring!”
Wrapsesh has social media to thank for much of the shop’s success. “We’re building up this reputation in our industry and getting support from people all around the world that I would otherwise never see or talk to,” Bonifacio said. “It’s a really cool experience getting to network with those people and it’s strictly because of our social media.”